An Alarm Soon to Sound. You Might Be Asleep.

I’m right now looking at a research chart that has stopped me cold.

It’s part of the Fall-Winter 2017 Smart Audio report from NPR and Edison Research.  Find it here:

The topic: Smart Speakers.

The broader topic:  Conversational Commerce.

The uber-topic:  Is this game-changing market transition? One that changes the rules, irrevocably?

The authors asked their U.S. respondents if the time they spent using a Smart Speaker replaced time previously spent with other technologiesInteresting question, eh?

  • 39% said yes, it replaced time spent using traditional AM/FM radio.
  • 34% said yes, it replaced time spent with a smartphone.
  • 30% said yes, it replaced time spent with a television.
  • 26% said yes, it replaced time spent with a computer.


The last device that replaced multiple others—cameras, alarm clocks, iPods*—was the smartphone.

Tick Tock

Forrester’s Brendan Witcher published a thoughtful set of recommendations last week regarding retail technology investments for 2018. He named today’s top investment areas (what’s hot) and tomorrow’s coming attractions (what’s on the radar).

He also called out five areas of hype—specifically, those new tech opportunities that must yet prove their value. Conversational Commerce was on the Hype list. But not in the way you might think.

Brendan’s point: Customer behavior and expectations for Conversational Commerce are running well ahead of most retailer’s investment plans—especially as some 58% of U.S. online adults who use a voice assistant speaker are interested in (or already using it to order and reorder products.

Tick Tock Tick

Back to the NPR-Edison report for a moment.

Voice-based commerce is moving beyond the reorder-replenishment basics. More than one-in-five respondents have used a smart speaker to order a new product not previously purchased, researched an item you might want to purchase, or added an item to a e-com/con-com shopping cart so it could be reviewed for later purchase.

We’re talking mature e-com shopping behaviors.

  • 58 percent of survey respondents have used a smart speaker to purchase household supplies.
  • 51 percent to purchase electronics.
  • 42 percent to purchase groceries.

This past week, eMarketer cited an April 2018 survey from customer experience platform Navar that claimed that smart speaker device ownership and voice shopping activity have nearly doubled in the most recent six months.

Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

The market continues to grow.

In 2018, eMarketer estimates that 40.7 million U.S. residents will use an Amazon Echo* at least once a month, while 18.0 million will say “Hey Google.”

Nearly 60 million.

Not a bad little cohort.

Yes, the vast majority of U.S. residents still prefer traditional forms of shopping. Of course. And some 48 percent of U.S. households still have landline telephones. And some 190 million-plus U.S. citizens still pay monthly cable television subscriptions.


Awake yet?

Tell me what you think.


Published on Categories RetailTags , , , ,
Jon Stine

About Jon Stine

Global Director Retail Sales at Intel. Jon Stine leads Intel’s global sales and strategy for the retail, hospitality, and consumer goods industry sectors. His CV includes leadership of North American retail consulting practice for Cisco Systems, and a prior stint at Intel, where he founded the company’s sales and marketing focus on the retail industry. His perspective on technology’s value in the industry has been shaped by advisory and project engagements in the United States, across the European Union, and in India, Australia, and the People’s Republic of China, and from 15 years of executive sales and marketing experience in the U.S. apparel industry, working with the nation’s leading department and specialty stores. At Intel, his current areas of research and engagement include the future of the store in this new digital age; how and where retailers turn data into competitive advantage; the role of technology within the new cross-channel shopper journey, and, the critical business and IT capabilities that industry success will demand going forward.